DIY Dollar Tree candles are easy to make, and they only cost a few dollars per candle. Add essential oils for long-lasting fragrance.
It occurred to me recently that in my Life Before Handan (LBH), I had never been in a dollar store. For that matter, I’d never been inside a Walmart either.
I thought dollar stores were the final dumping ground for unsold goods, Chinese factory mistakes and suspicious foodstuffs. I imagined shelves lined with swollen cans of expired seafood from Eastern European countries: spoiled Baltic Sea sardines from Lithuania, rancid jellied eel from Romania’s Black Sea Coast and decade-old shrimp paste from the inland shrimp farms of Krakow, Poland, all waiting for an eager American bargain hunter to scoop them up and take them home.
My first trip to a dollar store – a Dollar Tree in a certain town in Connecticut – did little to dispel my fears of reckless seafood and Chinese rejects. The store was unkempt, and the aisles were strewn with tossed-aside goods by uncaring shoppers.
But over time and after visiting several other Dollar Trees, my opinion of the chain began to change. I saw patterns emerge – The Crafting Corner, the seasonal displays, the glassware – and I realized that for many things in our lives, Dollar Tree offered the same items for one half or one third or one fifth the price! Slowly, but most assuredly, I began to enjoy my trips with Handan to dollar land. Though we knew most of what we’d find, every month would offer a new surprise.
(And I’ll tell you something for certain – I’d take Dollar Tree any day over, oh, say, IKEA! Yes, yes, I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to the Swedish Juggernaut, but it still takes a grievous toll on my body and soul each time I’m forced to trudge through the yellow-and-blue maze with the shuffling masses.)
Anyway, all this is a roundabout way of saying that I like Dollar Tree, and I enjoy going there with my babes. We recently shared with you our DIY citronella candles made from Dollar Tree wax. Gathering those supplies was a trip down memory lane – it was the first time I really took notice of the row-upon-row of Jesus candles.
Well, I now know they’re called prayer candles, but back in my youth (in the good old days before internet), we just called them Jesus candles. You could find them in every grocery store in the land – you probably still can.
But we loved Jesus candles in college. It didn’t matter from which belief system we hailed or even if we were atheist. We liked them because they were cheap, they were interesting to look at, and they provided excellent mood lighting while listening to The Grateful Dead and Phish.
For those DIY citronella candles, we bought our local DT’s entire supply of Jesus candles plus some plain glass ones as well. We weren’t sure how much we would be using, so we overbought…by a lot.
But overbuying from Dollar Tree is rarely a problem around here. We’ll either exchange the surplus or make us of them in another project. And that is precisely what we did with our leftover Jesus candles. Those citronella candles we made were geared for outdoor summertime. My babes wanted to make some candles that would be suitable for year-round use, inside or out.
And it all started with a visit to Dollar Tree’s crockery aisle…
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DIY Dollar Tree Candles
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- Dollar Tree candles or candle wax (we used white DT candles and colored them with wax dye)
- Dollar Tree bowls
- Construction adhesive, super glue or E-6000 glue
- Wood beads
- Candle wicks (optional – can use wicks from the Dollar Tree candles)
- Wax dye (optional)
- Citronella essential oil or essential oil of your choice (optional)
- Thermometer (optional but recommended – we got ours in a kit with candle wicks)
- Long stir sticks (optional – used for mixing in wax dye and essential oil – we used wooden skewers)
Now, as with most crafts touted as “Dollar Tree,” you can take that with a grain of salt. Yes, it is possible to do it entirely from DT materials, but with a small additional outlay of money, you can upgrade some of the materials without breaking the bank. I’m specifically thinking of the wicks – new wicks are so much easier to use than the ones you’ll be fishing out of the melted wax in the Dollar Tree prayer candles.
Of course, if you want to add good smellies1 to your candle, you’ll need essential oils. But hey, DT may sell that! I honestly haven’t checked. And if you want more interesting colors than the few standards offered, you may want to invest a few bucks in some wax dye like we did.
Okay, I’ve yapped far too much for such a simple project (a fact that annoys the crap out of some, apparently, but as Popeye said, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”)
1“Smellies” is one of many Handanisms I’ve picked up over the years – it means anything with a good smell like cologne, perfume or any sort of fragrance you can add to something. (A Handanism is a word or phrase unique to my babes, due to English being her second tongue – like Apple Crumble and Finch instead of Abercrombie and Fitch – you can find more of them in this post.)
Step 1 – Make the candle bowl
We bought gray, black and white bowls to make our DIY Dollar Tree candles, but you can use whatever color or style you like. We wanted them to be simple and sturdy enough to use outside, inside and in the garage. I chose to glue the bowls together with Liquid Nails Fuze-It simply because I had an open tube of it with a little bit left. Better to use it up than let it harden. Super glue or E-6000 would work equally well, but with E-6000, you’d have to let it cure overnight.
I put a thin line of adhesive around the bottom of the bowl – not too much. After, I spread it inward with my finger. If the glue is too thick, it will squeeze out when you join the bowls and make a mess.
I placed the other bowl on the first, bottom-to-bottom.
Step 2 – Make a bead string
When the adhesive had dried, I made a string of beads.
I determined how many beads was enough by wrapping the string around the waist of the glued-together bowls.
When I had the right number of beads, I tied off the string.
I cut the excess string…
…and then used a skewer to push the ends in so they wouldn’t be seen.
Step 3 – Install the wicks
Since these are wide bowls, I installed 3 wicks to help the candle burn evenly.
I knew from prior experience that the hot wax would melt the wax layer on the wicks and cause them to flop over so I constructed support scaffold from skewers. You can also see that I moved the wicks outward a bit, as I though I’d placed them all too close to the center of the bowl.
Step 4 – Melt the wax
For a detailed discussion of how to melt the wax, please refer to our DIY Citronella Candles post.
Step 5 – Mix in colors and essential oils (if desired)
We kept it simple for two of our three candles and left the wax white. But for the white bowl candle, I wanted to make it with blue wax. I had a bunch of blue Dollar Tree Jesus candles (labels removed – I’m no Pious Pete, but I’m not about to go dunking the holy and the sacred in boiling water!), but I wanted them to be a little more blue, so I added in some dark blue wax. In essence, the DT candles are all either white or white with color, so when these colored candles cool and harden, the white comes into play and really softens the color. To make colors pop, you need to add a lot of dye.
When the melted wax had cooled to about 125 degrees, I poured it into the white bowl. It looked almost black! I almost had second thoughts about the amount of dark blue wax I added, but then I reminded myself how much the color changes as they cool. You’re going to be amazed by the color transformation of this candle!
As the wax cooled, the true color began to emerge.
The more it cooled, the happier I got – it was starting to look like I had unwittingly recreated my absolute favorite color in the entire universe – Majorelle Blue.
Our DIY Dollar Tree candles were really simple to make, and they allowed us to use up most of our extra prayer candles. Yes, we had the added cost of a few bowls, but now we have a whole lotta bug-fighting power to keep the skeeters away from Handan this summer. Yep, I didn’t mention it before, but I added a boatload of citronella essential oil to all three candles. Some people don’t tolerate that smell, but Handan loves it, so we can burn them inside or out.